Radio Waves: 4/12/19

Scanning for professors and power … line

As you probably know, I am a radio junkie. I love radio and listen far more than does a typical person. I always have, ever since my Aunt Ina gave me a Realtone 10-transistor radio when I was very young. Of course, other radios were always around as well, including Motorola and General Electric tube radios long gone, and a still-around Delco tube radio that was a gift from my Dad to my Mom while they were dating.

One of my favorite activities when I was young was tuning around the AM band not only to find distant stations that could be heard only at night (a phenomenon known as “skip” allows AM signals to travel great distances at night as they bounce off the atmosphere) but to hear programs that sometimes only ran at night … usually late Sunday night.

In the days when the FCC required stations to prove they broadcast in the public interest, stations would often air public affairs programs in the (let’s just call them) “non-prime listening hours.” Stick them when no one was listening and check that box on your license renewal application.

Yet some of them were actually good. Two that I still have fond memories hearing were Ask the Professor and Powerline. Both aired locally on KHJ (930 AM), if my memory is correct. They were both syndicated throughout the country.

Ask the Professor was a quirky program featuring a panel of professors from the University of Detroit, Mercy, answering questions sent in by listeners. The idea was to stump the professors, though they usually did indeed know the answers. It was a fun program, even when I was in high school.

Powerline was a religious show for people who didn’t want to be preached at … teens, for example. Hosted by Brother Jon Rivers, the program featured contemporary music with mini-sermons and stories that generally tied to choices we make in our lives. It was oddly appealing, as it preached without being preachy. And it really did make you think.

I thought of these two shows as I was walking my dogs tonight. I think of weird things while walking my dogs … and I decided I’d look them up to see if anyone else remembered them.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that not only do many people on the internet remember the programs with the same fondness, but the programs are still on the air!Ask the Professor has been on the air continually since 1954. Affiliates are down to three: WHO/Des Moines, Iowa, WTBR-FM/Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and KLAV/Las Vegas. But through the magic of the internet, you can hear the programs via the station streams as wells through iTunes podcasts (you can subscribe!) and through the show website at

Powerline went off the air after many years in December 2007 when the Radio and Television Commission of the Southern Baptist Church — the group that produced the show — shut down. But in 2013, the Tom Kent Radio Network bright it back, along with host Jon Rivers. To my knowledge, there are no local affiliates, but the show is apparently available via TuneIn online and through the TuneIn app for smartphones. WBPC/Panama City, Florida airs the program Sunday mornings from 2 – 7 a.m. Pacific time, the station stream can be found at

Short Takes

Rumor around town has KRTH (101.1 FM) cutting back on music from the 1980s and instead focusing on the 1990s and 2000s. The 1980s are now on average more than 30 years old …

Bob McCormick, who anchored and hosted Money 101 on KNX (1070 AM) until 2014 is leaving for Texas … the result of his business evaluation that determined taxes in California are too high. His 1968 Camaro looks to be the same color as my old 1967 Camaro …

Mike Stark has announced that the LA Radio Studios are in the final stages of the rebuild. The studios were taken down when the building that housed them at the former Ports O Call Village in San Pedro was evacuated in order to be torn down. Stark talks of the studio and podcasts in a recent edition of Don Barrett’s LARadio.Com …